Digital Content Newfronts is notorious for its live concerts, celebrity partnerships and sizzle reels galore, but beneath the “sexy,” brands got serious about a few key messages for would-be investors.


In a time when fake news is a very real problem, The New York Times stood by its century-old commitment to seeking the truth and “dared” brands to partner with them with the slogan, “Truth+Dare.”

“There is value in high-quality journalism,” Sebastian Tomich, senior vice president of advertising and innovation at The New York Times told AListDaily. “It’s about what you can do with that in a daring fashion, and what makes the things that we do with advertisers special. Those were themes that we kept reiterating throughout the entire show—we don’t market ourselves as a transactional media business, where you come to us just to make a generic VR film, video or podcast. You come to us because you want to do groundbreaking work.”


It’s no secret that YouTube has lost quite a few advertisers who cite a lack of control over what messages are being displayed next to their brand. Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO, was quick to address concerns during the company’s Newfronts presentation.

“The last several weeks have been challenging for some of you, and you’ve told us to do better when it comes to ad placement,” she told the audience. “I want you to know that we have taken your feedback to heart. We work hard every day to earn our advertisers’ and agencies’ trust, and we apologize for letting some of you down. I’m here to say that we can and we will do better.”

Security has been a common thread among presenters at Newfronts this year who are taking advantage of the situation to assure potential investors of their trustworthiness.

“Who you trust your brands with is more important than ever,” Andrew Sugerman, an executive VP with Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, noted during Disney’s presentation.

Connected To Young Audiences

Disney has traditionally been a hit with the kiddies, but it’s so much more than toys and cartoons these days, especially with a digital-first generation. Much of Disney’s new digital content is family-friendly, with the overall goal of appealing to connected young consumers. Along with the sheer volume of major brands under the Disney mantle–including Marvel and Star Wars—the company includes more than 300 social media channels, reaching more than one billion followers combined.

“This extends our stories to the platforms Gen Z and millennial audiences are on every day, with diverse editorial voices that integrate top creators and influencers,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media in the pitch to marketers and agency execs.

Many brands are ramping up their social media video presence across the board, especially with livestream content. This connection to young audiences became a frequent talking point from brands as they assured marketers of their understanding in this demographic.

“Condé Nast was one of the first companies to invest in premium digital video at real scale, and as we’ve built our next-gen network, we’ve gained deep insight into millennial and Gen Z audiences,” said Dawn Ostroff, president of Condé Nast Entertainment during her presentation. “As mobile has become the new primetime among younger audiences, our digital video network now outperforms some traditional television networks.”

Improving The World

Whether it’s improving our own lives or the lives of others, personal empowerment—especially among women and minorities—was a hot topic at Newfronts this year.

The Never Settle Show, hosted by Mario Armstrong, is a program for and about entrepreneurs, airing live each week from eight different platforms allowing audiences to comment and ask questions in real-time.

Popsugar, also appealing to entrepreneurs, is hosting a new show called Failing Forward in which women share difficult moments that helped propel them forward.

Meanwhile, Awesomeness outlined plans to launch Awesomeness News, focused on “socially conscious” issues, such as politics, the environment and social justice, through a lens for Gen Z viewers. Awesomeness News will be available on all AwesomenessTV platforms.